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Qns. Symphony plans to hold full fall season, family shows

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After a financially difficult season that forced the Queens Symphony Orchestra to cancel two summer concerts in Forest Park, the group’s director said she is looking forward to holding not only all their concerts this fall and next year but offering new programming as well.

“I think we could do better than last year,” Queens Symphony Orchestra Director Lynda Herndon said. “We’re gaining new support, getting more individual and corporate support. I definitely feel we’re regaining our footing.”

Herndon was forced to cut two of the group’s free summer concerts scheduled to be held in August at Forest Park because of limited funds, but the orchestra was able to host two other free concerts in July. Herndon said all free concerts will be held next summer and the QSO is gearing up for a packed fall season.

This fall the orchestra has partnered with the Queens Library to offer for the first time a musical educational series called Symphony 101. The free family-friendly series on Saturday afternoons will bring adults and children together to learn about different instrument families, such as strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion.

“We’ll have musicians playing the instruments and talking about them,” Herndon said. “It’s a great way for the whole family to get more familiar with the orchestra.”

The 57-year-old orchestra launches its 2009-10 Masterworks Concert series in October. The three concerts on Oct. 24, Feb. 20 and May 8 will be held, as always, at the Queensborough Community College Performing Arts Center. Each concert is preceded by a lecture on the evening’s featured music.

“I’m very excited about doing new music this season,” said Constantine Kitsopoulos, the QSO music director. “We’re doing three world premieres.”

The first concert will feature a world premiere by Michael Starobin entitled “Variations on a Theme” by American composer Stephen Sondheim.

The orchestra will perform the world premiere of Victoria Bond’s “Dreams of Flying” and the other world premier will be George Walker’s “De Camera.”

Herndon said the orchestra will continue its outreach efforts with younger musicians and the group will hold an exclusive concert entitled “Gauchito and the Pony” for young people. The concert, held Oct. 15 at Queens College, for students in kindergarten through eighth-grade, was composed by Carlos Franzetti to teach students about the various musical styles of the Americas. The piece follows the adventures of Gauchito and his animal friend as they travel through South, Central, and North America.

The QSO will continue to hold its young soloist competition, which allows students to compete for the chance to perform with the orchestra. Last year’s competition winner, Andrew Lowy, will perform Aaron Copland’s “Concert for Clarinet” at the first Masterworks concert.

For more information about the QSO’s upcoming season and ticket information, visit queenssymphony.org or call 718-326-4455.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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